This week, NASA communicated its plans related to manufacturing space suits in a startling announcement. It has been revealed that NASA is not going further with assembling its in-house space suits. Rather, it has assigned the task to the American aerospace companies named “Axiom Space” and “Collins Aerospace”. Thus, NASA is outsourcing this project to these two corporations, which will support the future space missions of Artemis and the International Space Station.
It has been reported that these two companies would eventually rent their spacesuits to NASA for certain missions because NASA has not been able to develop its own spacesuits due to some demanding issues. The possibility of the manufacturing of spacesuits by NASA has now ceased due to the failure of its internal development program. The video below sheds light on some important reasons why NASA has adopted a strategy to outsource its space suits:
According to the video and NASA’s latest research paper published on this, it is stated that NASA was planning the fabrication of its xEMU space suits for the upcoming missions, but due to the global pandemic and funding shortage, along with some technical challenges during the testing and operational phase, NASA couldn’t proceed with the project further. Therefore, it has decided to outsource its space suits for the EVA (extra-vehicular activity) missions.
NASA would pay the suppliers, i.e., Axiom Space & Collins Aerospace, a whopping amount of $3.5 billion dollars to rent these suits, train the astronauts, and make them aware of all the technicalities. Both of these companies have in-house professional experience in the fabrication of spacesuits. In the video, the analyst demonstrated the pictures of the space suits that Collins Aerospace has recently released. Mark Kirasich, the deputy associate administrator of NASA’s Artemis Campaign, said, Our commercial partnerships will help realize our human exploration goals. We look forward to using these services for NASA’s continued presence in low-Earth orbit and our upcoming achievement of returning American astronauts to the Moon’s surface. We are confident our collaboration with industry and leveraging NASA’s expertise gained through over 60 years of space exploration will enable us to achieve these goals together.”
It can be seen that the load on the back is similar to the backpack as compared to the xEMU space suit, which has a door-like structure on the back through which the astronaut enters the spacesuit and then eventually puts his hands and legs into it. But Collins is coming up with something different from the xEMU. On the other hand, Axiom has revealed only a single image of its spacesuits until now on Twitter. So, let’s see how both of these companies come up with their breakthroughs and support future space missions with NASA.